The world's 1.2 billion Catholics have a new leader. His name is Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, but he will be known henceforth as Pope Francis.
Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires and a member of the largest Catholic order, the Jesuits, is the first pope from the new world. Born in Argentina to parents of Italian descent, he represents a bridge between the Church's European roots and its future, which lies, according to many, in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Bergoglio's chosen name, Francis, is a nod to the patron saint of Italy, Saint Francis of Assisi.
"I know him," Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, a director of the North American College in Rome and a CBS News Vatican consultant told CBSNews.com shortly after Pope Francis appeared. "He is complete simplicity; down to Earth, a man with the people."
It took the 115 cardinal electors locked inside the ornate Sistine Chapel just a day and a half to send a cloud of white smoke up a chimney and into the air over St. Peter's Square, signaling the conclusive vote -- at least 77 of them agreed that Bergoglio was the right man to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.
One of Francis' first phone calls as pope was to his predecessor, the now-Pope Emeritus Benedict. The Rev. Thomas Rosica, deputy Vatican spokesman, said the new pontiff was already "writing the playbook" with his unscripted move. The Vatican later announced an installation Mass, traditionally attended by VIPs and faithful from the pope's home country, would be held on March 19.
Thousands of the faithful and the curious huddled underneath umbrellas in a rain-drenched St. Peter's Square erupted in applause and cheers upon seeing the white plume drift over the Chapel. Three American tourists told CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips they were in Rome on vacation and just came to the square to "see if we'd get lucky." They got lucky, and witnessed history.
Within an hour, Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal deacon of the Church, stepped onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and announced in Latin the name of the man elected to lead the faith -- the 266th pope and the 265th successor to the apostle Peter, from whom the basilica and the square take their name. Catholics believe Jesus Christ himself chose Peter to lead his church on Earth.
CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey notes that no pope in the Church's near-2,000 year history has ever been so bold as to claim the name of the original pontiff for himself -- there has never been a Peter II.
Shortly after Tauran's announcement the new Holy Father appeared on the balcony, clad in his papal vestments, to give his first blessing. He then asked the thousands gathered below, in Italian, to give him their blessing in return.
After accepting the position before his fellow cardinals and informing them of his chosen papal name, Pope Francis will have gone to pray in the Pauline Chapel, across from the Sistine Chapel, before greeting the crowd.
In spite of a much-discussed divide among the prelates heading into the conclave, pitting traditionalists from the Vatican establishment against those more interested in reform, the cardinals have concluded their election in a time frame typical, if not shorter than, the past six conclaves.
The decisive action to install Bergoglio may be taken as a deliberate move by the clerics to disprove the widespread claims of a bitter division within the College of Cardinals.
The new pontiff inherits a church still reeling from the child sexual abuse scandal and mired in financial and bureaucratic mismanagement which his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI failed to address before he shocked the world by becoming the first pope to retire in almost 600 years.
In Pope Francis, the cardinals will hope for a man capable of addressing the internal problems of governance brought to light by the torrid Vatileaks scandal last year, and a man with enough of the persona and charm of Pope John Paul II to swell church attendance.